A Jack Tale for Christmas

Posted by | December 14, 2016

“A long time ago, when Jack was growin’ up, his daddy give him a brand new shotgun for Christmas. Obviously, Jack was as proud as a peacock over this new gift. He wanted to show his daddy just how proud he was by going out and gettin a whole mess of game on his first huntin trip. So, bright and early the very next morning, Jack jumped out of bed, threw on his overalls, boots, and jacket and flew out the door before breakfast. He got up so quick he even beat the crack of dawn.

“As the sun slowly yawned out over the horizon, Jack’s shadow was beginning to cast out over Bear Creek. He figured that most of the small game around these here parts would be gettin themselves a drink, right smart early in the morning. Well it wasn’t long before Jack’s logic paid off.

“Just 40 feet ahead of where Jack stood sat two rabbits, one on each side of a large boulder. Sittin right purty on top of that boulder was a flat rock with a large gray squirrel eatin a hickory nut. Jack looked and calculated a bit. He raised his gun up under his chin and aimed. Boooom. One shot was all it took.

Christmas Jack Tale“Jack had hit that flat rock smack dab in the middle and broke it in half exactly under where that big old grey squirrel had been perched. Of course it instantly killed the squirrel. The flat rock’s two broken pieces fell simultaneaously on each side of the boulder killing the two rabbits, in a moments notice.

“The kick from the double barrel shotgun was so strong that it knocked Jack clean out into the middle of the creek. It nearly took Jack the better part of 30 minutes to climb out of that creek. Reason being, his overalls had gotten so full of bass that he could barely climb up the bank.

“Finally, when it was able to get up the bank and out of the water his dad-burned butten come flyin off them overalls due to the overload of fish they contained. That button had such force that it flew at a whiz-bang velocity like a rocket into the woods and just happened to hit a twelve point buck running from all this excitement. When this deadly button hit him in mid-stride his momentum carried him nearly 60 feet before he landed and hit his antlers on another rock. This caused a portion of the antlers to become a fragmented projectile that flew into the next pasture killing the neighbors prize bull.

“All that there was left to do now was for Jack to gather up everything to carry home. The only problem was; how in the world was he going to carry 24 largemouth bass, 1 large grey squirrel, 2 fat rabbits, 1 very large slightly damaged deer, and a 2000 lb. prize bull home by himself? Now that would really be a story…”

Told in the Beech Mountain tradition, from the Wilson Library North Carolina Collections/University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


related post: “The Jack Tales. Not just beanstalks

4 Responses

  • Granny Sue says:

    I love this story! Thanks for sharing it.

  • Ralph says:

    My mother’s mother died in the Spanish flu epidemic in 1918, when Mom was barely a year old. So she was raised primarily by her grandmother, also named Sally, and her mother’s four younger sisters.

    All of the Williamson women grew up smart and well-read, except for Granny Williamson, a wiry little mountain woman who was busy, all her life, helping raise a large family in a home full of feather beds, heated by fireplaces and a coal stove. President Roosevelt’s REA didn’t reach our part of the county until 1948, so we rode out the Depression with no electricity, no running water and, of course, no plumbing.

    Most of the sisters married young and moved off to Ohio or Michigan where their husbands would learn, eventually, to make cars, tires or, in Uncle Hershel’s case, give haircuts.

    Mom herself moved back into my grandfather’s house nearby after he re-married in 1925. But she always remained close to Granny Williamson, even after she had begun walking to and from high school at the county seat, five miles away.

    At Inez Academy, she took four years of Latin, read voraciously and became one of the school’s top students. After the last of Granny Williamson’s daughters married, Mom began helping her with household chores that required help — which included, for the purposes of this story, wallpapering.

    By this time, both Granny’s age and Mom’s educational elan were showing. Each still spoke in the same mountain idiom, but at school, Professor Courtney had begun to “correct” his prize student’s grammar and pronunciation, preparing her, he said, for college and life outside the hills.

    One Spring evening, Mom and Granny were papering her living room with rose-pattered strips of wallpaper. After carefully measuring and cutting each length of paper, Mom brushed each with paste and handed it up to Granny, who was standing on a stepladder near a stairway.

    Granny applied the paper to the flat surface, climbed down and helped Mom move the stepladder to a floor-to-ceiling section of the wall.

    Granny stretched her arms and rotated her neck. “My gints is’a achin’,” she complained.

    Without looking up from her paste bucket, Mom said, “It’t not ‘GINTS,’ Granny. It’s ‘joints.’ Your JOINTS are aching.”

    Granny gave Mom one of her sideways, irritated looks, but climbed the ladder again without responding.

    “Here,” said Mom, handing her the next strip of dripping wallpaper. Granny raised it toward to ceiling, but the top edge came up short. “A little higher, Granny,” Mom said.

    Granny, holding on to the paper with one hand and the stepladder with the other, stepped up another rung and pushed the wet paper higher. Still short. “Higher!” Mom said.

    Granny tiptoed on the ladder run and then, exasperated, just let the wet strip of wallpaper slide to the floor.

    “What do you think I am, Sally Mae?” she cried. “A JOINT?”

    (The rose-patterned wallpaper was still there in 1956 when the empty house was destroyed. I saved a piece of it because Mom laughed every time she told the story.)

  • Myra Henry says:

    These stories remind me of some of a great-uncle Richmond would tell. They were usually so ridiculous we would laugh till it felt our sides would split! What a treasure trove there is in these recollections.

  • Steve Williams says:

    “A Jack Tale For Christmas” is pure delight. When I read these stories I feel as though I am right there, pure and simple; that I am enjoying life right smart. How I love that phrase “Right Smart.” When I typed Black Lung Hearing transcripts several years ago there were many witnesses who used the phrase. How I have always wished I could have met and spoken with these wonderful people. While I know times were difficult farther back on, I know life, our land, our principles, most things were so much better for us because we knew character, and what’s right and what’s wrong and how to act. How I would have loved to longer back during those years than the years of nowadays.

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